The Zen teaching of Daruma—"See your nature, and become Buddha!"—is indeed a fresh breeze that is always blowing. Zen insight is not limited to one tradition or culture—it extends to every corner of the globe, and is always available to those who look for true understanding. This is a wonderfully expressive Daruma portrait, and the brushstrokes are soft and lucid.
Matsubara Banryu was ordained at the age of fourteen, and then spent more than twenty years as a mendicant monk. At the age of fifty-nine he was appointed abbot of the Zuigan-ji in Matsushima, one of the most beautiful Zen temples in Japan. However, Banryu was so shabbily attired when he arrived at the temple, the gatekeeper mistook him for a beggar and sent him to the kitchen for food. Banryu was well known for his practice of "hidden virtue"--performing good deeds such as mending his monks' straw sandals and washing their robes anonymously at night--and his care of material objects--"Everything in this world is a gift of the gods and buddhas and not a single grain of rice should be wasted." He was a popular Zen master with many Dharma heirs, including a number of lay men and women. Even for a Zen master, Banryu got a late start as an artist--he didn't start painting seriously until he was in his eighties.
Eccentric Banryu was one of the most colorful Zen masters of the twentieth century. He brushed wonderfully expressive Daruma portraits for temple patrons and he was also an excellent calligrapher. Banryu's work is pure unadulterated Zen art: direct, forceful, and totally unaffected.